Erling Haaland wrote his name into the Premier League history books as he helped Manchester City beat Nottingham Forest 6-0 on Wednesday night.
Haaland was already being touted as the best Premier League signing of the summer when his deal to join Man City was first announced in May and, three months on, that is still probably the case.
The Norwegian started life in the Premier League with a brace against West Ham and although he failed to find the net in his second match vs Bournemouth, managing just eight touches, still came away with an assist. And the Cherries are the only team to have kept Haaland out in the Premier League so far this season, with the Man City striker hitting devastating form early on.
After the blank against Bournemouth, Haaland scored to help Man City come from behind to draw with Newcastle, pulling it back to 3-2 on the hour mark. And then came the performances against Crystal Palace and Forest.
Again Man City needed Haaland to help them come from two goals down, only this time his work came in the form of a second-half hat-trick with just 19 minutes between his first and third strike.
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But how do you follow up a second-half hat-trick? With a first-half hat-trick, of course. This one was a little slower, with 26 minutes between Haaland’s first and third, but it put Man City in full control and sent out a warning to their title challengers.
Haaland’s first goal, 12 minutes into the match, came with his first touch to show that even if you keep the Norwegian quiet you can’t fully stop him. Nine minutes later he was in the right position to tap in from close range after good work from Phil Foden and the hat-trick was completed with a header practically on the goal-line after John Stones’ effort appeared to be staying out.
In scoring his hat-trick, Haaland broke the Premier League record for most goals scored in a player’s first five appearances in the competitions, standing at nine. The previous record was eight, held by Mick Quinn for Coventry City and Man City legend Sergio Aguero.
Haaland also broke the record for the least games needed to score two hat-tricks in the Premier League, at five matches, 16 fewer than the previous best set by Demba Ba (21).
And former Man City manager Joleon Lescott believes Haaland has something Premier League defenders do not have.
“I will assume it’s a better start than he anticipated but if you look at all of his chances, he’s the first one to react to the next pass,” Lescott said on BT Sport.
“‘Is it coming to me? No, well I’m going to get back inside the width of the post.’
“It must be a natural instinct that he has that defenders don’t have and not many strikers have in my opinion.”
When asked about the possibility of Haaland being rested at times, Lescott added: “I think you can look at that. I think if, say in the Champions League, they’ve got 10 points after four games – 12 points possibly – I think then there may be a rest, a rotation policy in place in regards to Haaland.
“But while he’s scoring goals, strikers know when they’re hot why would you take them out? I know City score goals in numbers but in regards to Haaland, he’s fearful, no defender is looking forward to playing against him.
“There will be no one thinking, ‘I’m going to stop him today,’ because you know there’s so many chances that City create and he puts them away.”